Fight or flight?
500 Words: U-Turn
“Get her on her own and punch her on the nose,” was the advice my dear father gave me on how to deal with a girl who was making my life a misery.
I had just started high school and the only two girls who had gone with me from the local primary school had ditched me after they found new and more interesting friends. Little old lonesome me had become an easy target for a nasty bully.
Things were so bad that I did seriously contemplate taking my father’s advice.
Each day, I plotted how I would lie in wait for her in the girls’ washrooms, then make a wild jab at her nose before she knew what was happening.
In reality, there was no way I could even punch a bowl full of jelly let alone another human being. But as the constant, surreptitious bullying continued from the butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-her-mouth girl whom all the teachers loved, I kept thinking about lashing out with my fists in an attempt to make the bullying stop.
Before I got to test out my non-existent boxing skills, fate intervened.
Our year was out in the school yard, having softball practice. A big girl with a big swing hammered the softball. She hit it straight towards the bully and, as if in slow motion, we all watched on helplessly as the ball flew powerfully through the air and straight into the bully’s nose. There was a sickening crunch and a piercing scream of pain. Blood flowed.
In the moments that followed when the rest of the girls fled to the comfort of their huddling herd, I saw an opportunity.
I could join the herd, fly from the scene and become one of the onlooking cows. Or, I could fight – I could go to the bully, feigning concern and care, put my arm around her shoulder and lead her to the seats. I could wait there with her as her a compassionate classmate and helper, mopping up her blood with my hanky, until the sports teacher came over with the First Aid kit or the ambulance arrived. I could step out of my role of victim and face my aggressor, extending an offer of help.
So many thoughts sped through my mind – what if she pushed me away and rejected my help, what if her cronies thwarted my plan, would I be able to overcome my loathing of her to even offer help, what if this plan only made things worse?
As I started to move, I made a decision – I’d milk this situation for all it was worth.
I got to the bully and extended that helping hand. No words were uttered. Our eyes met – she looked away first. My offer was accepted. Together, we limped back to the seats to wait.
In time, the bully recovered and got back to her bullying but I was spared. I was off the hit list! The bullying stopped.
I was often told how kind I was to that girl and how impressed the other students and teachers were with my immediate offer of assistance. If only they knew the real reason behind my actions and how a split-second u-turn set me free.